The A to Z of Diversity Equity & Inclusion (DE&I)


A glossary to support your work


Let’s start with DE&I itself. It stands for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion – three terms that you might see used interchangeably but in truth have separate meanings.


Diversity describes our individual characteristics and how they differ. Collection of similarities and differences that we each have based on innate individual characteristics, lived experiences, and learned customs, traditions, and other cultural influences.


Equity is the active effort to eliminate barriers so that people are treated based on their unique needs, circumstances and with consideration of historical and systemic inequities. It ensures that everyone has access to the same opportunities and requires consistent enhancement and re-evaluation of policies, practices, attitudes, and cultural messages to create and reinforce fair outcomes.


Inclusion is intentional and continuous efforts to create an accessible environment where people feel they belong and are enabled to be the best version of themselves, because their uniqueness is valued, talent recognized, and voices heard.


All three of these deserve attention on their own merit. Just because you achieve one does not automatically achieve the other: you can have a diverse team but not an inclusive one (where different types of people are represented but not truly listened to). To truly move from a diverse culture to an inclusive culture, equity is essential.
On this page we have listed some definitions of further terms. Let us know if there are others you would like to see added. 


You want to learn more about DE&I at Bayer? The lecture of the respective Bayernet page gives you further insights. The page is only reachable for internals with access to the Bayernet. 


Discrimination against people with mental and/or physical disabilities; social structures that favor the able-bodied.


Making facilities or communications usable and understandable by people with disabilities. Examples of physical accessibility include self-opening doors, elevators for multiple levels, raised lettering on signs and entry ramps. In the digital world, accessibility could include clear page design, alt text, captions and screen readers.



Discrimination against individuals because of their age. Commonly based on stereotypes.



An ally supports underrepresented groups that they don’t belong to, both acknowledging their position of privilege and using this to take action and help others.  



Prejudice against people of Jewish ethnicity and/or religion. This could incorporate active hostility, institutional discrimination, or believing or sharing negative stereotypes.



A term used to define the experience of being accepted and included by those around you, and feeling like a full member of a business team or community. When people feel like they belong, they can thrive, and are more likely to interact with people and tasks using their whole selves, skillsets and creativity.



(also multiracial, mixed race, mixed/dual heritage, mixed/dual ethnicity): A term used to describe a person who identities as being of two races, or whose parents are from two different race groups.



A person whose gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth. The abbreviation for Cisgender is ‘cis’.



Prejudice towards people of different socioeconomic levels or backgrounds – typically assigning higher inherent value to people from high-income backgrounds, and vice versa. 


Cultural Appropriation

The act of disrespectfully adopting elements of another culture – typically referring to a majority group carrying this out on an underrepresented group.


Cultural Identity

The identity or feeling of belonging to a group based on nationality, ethnicity, religion, social class, generation, locality, or other types of social groups that have their own distinct culture(s).


Cultural Fluency

The ability to understand and engage with people from other cultures.


The name someone was born with, or previously used, before they changed it. ‘Deadnaming’ somebody (deliberately using their deadname instead of the real name they use) is a form of aggression. This is particularly associated with transgender people but can apply to anyone who has changed their name.



A term referring to how different health issues, combined with environmental or social factors, may affect someone’s everyday life. Though it’s important to acknowledge physical or mental conditions, many people’s barriers to good health and life experiences exist because of external factors, such as poor access to health facilities or transport. “Person with a disability” is a more considerate term to describe someone with any mental or physical impairment, rather than “disabled”, unless they indicate a preference otherwise.



Actions and/or behaviors that favor certain individuals or groups over another based on race, gender, sexual orientation, social class, physical ability, religion, age, and other categories, often incorporating the use of negative stereotypes.



Having differences with a group, setting or organization. These differences could be with respect to age, class, ethnicity, gender, health, physical and mental ability, race, sexual orientation, religion, physical size, education level, job and function, personality traits, social and economic background, and other human differences. 


Equity / Equality

In the context of diversity, the term “equality” is typically defined as treating everyone the same and is sometimes used as an alternative to “inclusion”.


“Equity” means acknowledging that the position people start from is not always equal, depending on the groups they belong to and their personal situation. It takes into account these inequalities and works to give everyone what they need, which may be different from person to person. Equity is the building block of inclusion: for people to feel safe, included and valued, they need to first feel like they are on an even footing with others. 



Ethnicity, or ethnic group, is the membership of a population group defined by shared characteristics such as: 

  • Cultural heritage
  • Values 
  • Behavioral patterns 
  • Language 
  • Political and economic interests
  • Ancestral geographical base



Judging the world solely by the standards of your own culture; assuming this culture is ‘normal’ or ‘default’ and evaluating all cultures with reference to your own.



Leaving someone out based on their differences. These differences can be related to race, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, class, or other social groups.



Gender Identity

A person’s perception of their gender. Gender identity may or may not correspond with someone’s birth-assigned sex.


Gender Role

A socially assigned expectation or cultural norm related to behavior, mannerisms, dress, etc. based on gender.



The way in which economic and social institutions and groups show bias towards heterosexuality, such as by assuming that everyone is heterosexual or that heterosexuality is ‘normal’ or ‘correct’.


Hidden Bias (Unconscious Bias)

Hidden or implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect a person’s understanding, actions, or decisions unconsciously as they relate to people from different groups.


Inclusivity / Inclusion / Inclusiveness

The process of bringing people who are traditionally excluded into decision-making processes, activities, or positions of power, enabling them to feel safe, respected, motivated, and engaged. This means people aren’t only present in teams or discussions, but also actively included, listened to and valued.



Intersectional approaches consider multiple social identities such as gender, race, ethnicity, social class, religion, sexual orientation and others, and acknowledge that they can exist together and compound each other, which causes unique opportunities, barriers, experiences, or social inequalities which cannot necessarily be expressed by considering just one factor.


Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (or questioning), intersex, and asexual (or allies).



Discrimination against LGBTQIA people can include: homophobia (dislike or fear of gay people), lesbophobia (homophobia centered on women), biphobia (dislike or erasure of bisexual people), transphobia (dislike of transgender people or refusal to accept their gender identity), and others.



Everyday words and actions that exclude, harm or alienate underrepresented groups (e.g. making jokes or patronizing remarks), even if the aggressor does not realize this or thinks they are being harmless. Similar to ‘everyday racism’ or ‘everyday sexism’. The term ‘microaffirmation’ has gained popularity as the counterpart to microaggression: everyday actions that affirm, include and show appreciation of others. 



A term often used to describe racially, ethnically, or culturally distinct groups that are usually subordinate to more dominant ‘majority’ groups. A minority in one setting is not always a minority in another, e.g. religious groups in different countries. 



The idea that there is diversity in how individuals’ brains and work, that these neurological differences should be valued in the same way we value any other human variation, and that there is no single ‘right’ or ‘normal’ way of thinking or interacting with the world. The term often includes people with Autism, Dyslexia, ADHD, Dyscalculia, Tourette Syndrome, and other neurological differences.



People who identify with a gender that is not within the classical male-female binary, e.g. not male or female, somewhere between the two, no gender or fluid gender.


Treating people or groups as different or ‘outsiders’, usually in a way that highlights perceived inferiority or creates divisions.



Revealing someone’s LGBTQIA identity to others without their consent. Not only does this exclude the person and betray their trust, it could also potentially endanger them.


Performative allyship

When a person or organization declares or makes a show of their allyship to an underrepresented group for appearances’ sake without genuinely being helpful or inclusive. (see also Tokenism) 



An inherent advantage (e.g. population-level socioeconomic advantages or being free of oppression or stereotypical associations) associated with a certain race, gender, sexuality, ability, socioeconomic status, age, or other differences. White privilege and male privilege are two commonly cited forms of privilege.



In the context of diversity, a pronoun is a word or phrase that individuals use to represent their gender identity. You cannot always know what pronouns (e.g. she/her, he/him, they/them) someone uses by looking at them.


Psychological Safety

The confidence to speak up with ideas or concerns and be your true self at work, without fearing repercussions for your opinions because of your identity or internal politics. 


Refers to individuals as part of a distinct group defined by their physical characteristics and some cultural and historical commonalities. Often used as a shorthand term to refer to more specific characteristics including skin color, ethnicity, and nationality.



The oppression of people or groups (usually underrepresented minorities) because of their color, race, nationality, or origin. Based on beliefs that races have inherent differences, superiorities or inferiorities, and enacted by people, communities or institutions.



The biological category (male, female or intersex) people are given based on physical characteristics. Compare to gender, which is a social and cultural concept that may correspond to, but is not the same as, sex. 


Sexual Orientation

The direction of one’s sexual, emotional, physical, or romantic attraction towards the same sex or gender, opposite sex or gender, or both or other sexes or genders. 



An over-generalized belief about a particular group or category of people. A stereotype represents the expectation that something is true about every member of that group.



A practice of making a superficial effort to show diversity by including one or a few members of an underrepresented group, while not achieving real change or addressing any underlying issues. 



An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from their sex assigned at birth and societal expectations of their physical sex. Transgender or “trans” does not imply any form of sexual orientation. 

Underrepresented Group

An underrepresented group refers to a subset of a population with a smaller percentage than the general population. For example, women in certain professions, people of color, or indigenous people.


Useful References for Further Learning: